Walt Disney Animation’s latest classic film is “Encanto”, which tells the tale of an extraordinary family, the Madrigals, who live hidden in the mountains of Colombia, in a magical house, in a vibrant town, in a wondrous, charmed place called an Encanto. The magic of the Encanto has blessed every child in the family with a unique gift from super strength to the power to heal—every child except one, Mirabel (voice of Stephanie Beatriz). But when she discovers that the magic surrounding the Encanto is in danger, Mirabel decides that she, the only ordinary Madrigal, might just be her exceptional family’s last hope.
Recently, I got to speak with one of the film’s directors Jared Bush, along with the co-director, Charise Castro-Smith, about the film.
We discussed how different making “Encanto” was during a pandemic, what it was like working with Lin-Manuel Miranda and how they feel about the film being released in cinemas for Thanksgiving and on Disney+ at Christmas.
Roger: Hi, thank you very much for taking your time to meet today to speak to me. Great. Really enjoyed Encanto and just wanted to ask first off Jared, could you just give a brief idea of what Encantos all about?
Jared Bush: Sure. So our story is about this amazing, magical, extraordinary family that lives in this hidden town in Columbia, where every member of the family has some very special gift, whether that is super strength or the ability to create beautiful flowers or heal with food. Every one of the family’s special with the exception of one character and that is Mirabel, our main character who’s the only ordinary child in this extraordinary family. The story is really her journey to understand her family, to understand herself and ultimately find a way to heal the family in a way that is not so evident on the surface.
Roger: Cool. And I wanted to ask, to both of you really, what was your experience working on this film? Because obviously going through the pandemic but also you both got to become a director for the first time. How did that feel? First off Charise.
Charise Castro-Smith: Sure. It was amazing. I started out on this film as a writer, writing the script with Jared and then about nine months into my time working here, Jared and Byron asked me to co-direct, which I was stunned by and really thrilled about because it was an amazing, amazing opportunity. I learned so much and I think I have such a deeper appreciation for what an amazing, incredible art form animation is now. So I feel very lucky about that.
Jared Bush: Yeah. It’s funny, I’ve been at Disney animation for 10 years, I think almost to the month and I’d say directing animation is very, very different. I think once you’re really in the trenches, there’s so much to be done on these movies. About 700 people put these movies together. There’s many, many decisions to be made and so I think it was great to have, so I think Charise and I, as directors also with Byron Howard, who is one of my favorite people of all time, it really takes actually a lot of people to figure all that out and to work with all the teams. We have amazing, amazing artists and to work with everybody, I think requires, especially for this movie, a lot of different points of view. This is a movie about perspective and I think on top of just the nuts and bolts of actually producing it, we wanted to make sure that we had different ways of looking at this story. And so we were constantly attacking it from different perspectives.
Roger: What was it like working with Lin-Manuel?
Charise Castro-Smith: Oh, it was fantastic. Yeah, that guy’s got a future, I think but he is an incredible songwriter obviously and a wonderful, wonderful, generous collaborator. Had so many wonderful insights into the story, into the characters, as his songs would come in, they would really inform the way we were thinking about different characters and then we’d ripple that new understanding throughout the script. So, he was a very close partner. We met with him every, especially during the pandemic, we met with him every Friday night.
Jared Bush: We did. Yeah.
Charise Castro-Smith: And it was always some new, joyous, wonderful discovery. He’s great.
Roger: And I’m going to ask also, with the movie hitting cinemas on Thanksgiving and then hitting Disney Plus on Christmas Eve, how do you feel this being the big holiday movie this year?
Jared Bush: Oh my gosh, it’s honestly so exciting. I think that this is a movie about family and it’s about the wonders of family and the challenges of family. Those really come to light during the holiday times, I think, for all of us. And so it’s a perfect time for that to come out. I think by having this movie in theaters around Thanksgiving is obviously fantastic and of course, plays in the world that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. That’s still a wonderful time. And then to have it go to Disney Plus on Christmas is like a… It’s like when they said, “What do you guys think about this?” We’re like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. It’s the perfect scenario. So I’m very, very excited for that.
Roger: Cool. And I got to ask the last question really, if you could have a superpower or super gift, what would yours be?
Charise Castro-Smith: Definitely want to communicate with my dog, Ralph and figure out what he’s thinking when he’s licking the cash all the time.
Jared Bush: Oh man. I think… I don’t know if you suffer the same problem but I would love to be able to grow facial hair that looks cool. That’s something I’ve never-
Roger: Some hair would be nice.
Jared Bush: Anything for you. Sure. Yeah. I’m sorry, that was a sore point. Yeah, that would be great. That would be great. I’ve never been able to pull that off and that would be wonderful.
Roger: Thank you so much for taking your time out to speak to me today. I really enjoyed the movie and can’t wait for everyone to watch it next week. Again, thank you very much.
“Encanto” opens in cinemas this Wednesday 24th November 2021 and will be coming to Disney+ on Christmas Eve.
Are you looking forward to watching “Encanto” this holiday season?
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.